Friday, February 15, 2008

Our Ms. Brooks: The Torture Legacy

Rosa Brooks, canny observer that she is, admitted something important in her most recent column published yesterday in the Los Angeles Times. While we all were distracted by the current campaign, the White House has been busy:

...While we were all fixated on who will be the next president, loyalists to the outgoing president took advantage of our collective distraction to try to leave a last gruesome legacy for the American people: torture.

Remember waterboarding? In most versions of waterboarding, detainees are blindfolded and then strapped to a board. After that, they have water poured into their mouth and nose, sometimes through a cloth or cellophane (to enhance the sensation of simultaneous smothering and drowning). It was a favorite interrogation method of the Spanish Inquisition. U.S. courts have recognized it as torture, and in past wars, the U.S. government prosecuted it as a war crime.

Not anymore! While the rest of us were obsessing over the 600 possible methods of counting delegates, the Bush administration was busily conducting a PR campaign on behalf of waterboarding.
[Emphasis added]

She's quite right. Attorney General Mukasey has made it clear that he won't be prosecuting anybody involved in waterboarding. CIA Director Hayden has admitted that some high profile detainees were waterboarded. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the White House's favorite jurist, has indicated that torture isn't necessarily unconstitutional, especially when a terrorist threat is involved. White House mouth piece Tony Fratto told us that waterboarding isn't illegal and whether it will be used again in the future "will depend on circumstances."

Congress recently sent a bill to the President which specifically states that this torture technique is illegal, a bill which the President has promised to veto because it infringes on his executive power to torture anybody in any way he pleases, thank you very much.

That's some legacy, eh?

Ms. Brooks concludes that the next president will face the issue come January 19, 2009, and she issues some advice with a warning:

The task for the next president, Democrat or Republican, is clear. Very soon after taking office, our next president needs to lay this monster to rest by unambiguously repudiating waterboarding and all forms of torture.

That's the easy part of the next president's task, though. The hard part? Prying the thumbscrews out of the Bush administration's cold, dead hands.

339 days.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ye gods! Is there nothing these monsters won't try to justify? Never mind. I know the answer to that.

4:21 AM  

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